M.A. Contemporary Literature and Culture

Brunel University

Application deadline: as early as possible
Tuition fee:
  • € 4,740 / Year (EEA)
  • € 11,841 / Year (Non-EEA)
Start date: September  2014, September  2015
Credits: 180 ECTS
Duration full-time: 12 months
  • English
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Part-time, Full-time

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This MA is the first in the country that allows advanced study of contemporary literature in all its diversity. We examine popular genres, the 21st century novel, contemporary innovations, postcolonial literatures, postmodern poetics and more. Designed to develop advanced theoretical understanding of cultural, social, intellectual and aesthetic contexts, it allows students to engage with some of the most exciting writing of the last thirty years.

At Brunel, you'll attend classes focusing on Zadie Smith, Esther Freud, John Ashbery, Salman Rushdie, J H Prynne, Amitav Ghosh, Ian McEwan, Bollywood films and gangsta rap. An extensive programme of Writers Talking allows you to hear important contemporary writers discussing their own work. The Brunel Centre for Contemporary Writing organises research seminars, or you can make use of the substantial archival holdings of the Brunel University Library. And an excellent team of research-active tutors and practising writers will give you insights into a range of genres and creative practices you may never have encountered before.

The wide-ranging syllabuses for our taught modules confront the divisions between innovative and popular literatures. In workshops and seminars, students engage in discussion, present thier own interpretations and raise new questions for debate. You will develop your skills and expertise in the Dissertation, a major project focusing on the literature of your choice.

On completing the MA, you will have skills which are vital for careers in publishing, print and electronic media, the culture industries and education. If you wish to continue your studies at doctoral level, you will have essential research skills, and the opportunity to join a flourishing research culture at Brunel. Additionally, there are financial benefits offered to alumni of the Brunel MA programmes to help you on your way.


At present there are six modules on offer.

Studying the Contemporary:

Covers research methodologies relevant to contemporary studies, an overview of the intellectual, aesthetic and cultural issues relevant to contemporary literary production, and then finally considers a number of key contemporary writers such as Toni Morrison, Martin Amis, John Ashbery, JH Prynne and Salman Rushdie.

Postcolonial Literature:

This module analyses the emergence of post-colonial literatures during and after European colonialism, and their massive impact on contemporary writing and culture in Britain, the US and Europe.

Writing Now:

This module introduces some key writers and theoretical debates informing the composition and reception of innovative poetry and prose. It is unique in focusing on 21st century literatures, and on the ways in which cutting-edge literatures expose the contradictions in contemporary culture.

Popular genres and fictions:

This module examines contemporary popular fictions, and the roots of genres such as Science Fiction, Romance, Detective Fiction, the Western and Travel writing, to investigate how 20th century traditions are renovated for life in the 21st century.

Theories of Practice:

An option offered from our successful Creative and Professional Writing MA, this module considers some key debates from contemporary critical theory and cultural studies, allowing students to theorize the complexities of creativity itself.

The Dissertation:

To prepare you for what is perhaps the most important piece of writing you have yet produced, Brunel´s distinguished teaching staff will work with you in developing a relevant, realistic and original research project in an area of contemporary literature and culture of your choosing. Our team offers close supervision and regular contact, as you work on a long essay exploring the writer or subject of your choice. In addition to our diverse expertise, Brunel´s teaching staff has a long tradition of supporting interdisciplinary and creative projects, and of supporting students to produce work of exceptionally high standard.

Special Features

* Taught by specialists in the field
* Looks at contemporary writings in all their diversity
* Emphasis on close reading of a wide range of literatures
* Theoretically informed by the latest work in the field
* Provides a sophisticated framework of cultural and intellectual contexts
* Only MA in the country dedicated to the widest variety contemporary literatures
* Special emphasis on 21st century and cutting edge writings
* The location of Brunel University in West London places it in the heart of contemporary literary and cultural life
* Important writers and creative practitioners in the School of Arts contribute to teaching the programme and to the research culture at Brunel
* A unique opportunity to construct a programme of study in accordance with your own interests
* You can draw on the School´s new archive of contemporary writing, Archive of the Now, and its Centre for Contemporary Literature


You should have a good honours degree or relevant professional experience. The Programme Convenor will consider all applications including those from international students and individuals with extensive relevant experience.

English Language Requirements

* Brunel English Language Test (BrunELTS) - 70% (at least 65% in writing, 55% in all other section)
* IELTS - 7.0 (at least 6.5 in writing, 5.5 in all others)
* TOEFL (Internet Based) - 100 (at least 22 in writing, 15 in reading listening & speaking)
* TOEFL (Paper Based) - 600 (plus TWE 4.5)

English Language Requirements

IELTS band: 7
CAE score: (read more)

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is part of the Cambridge English suite and is targeted at a high level (IETLS 6.5-8.0). It is an international English language exam set at the right level for academic and professional success. Developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment - part of the University of Cambridge - it helps you stand out from the crowd as a high achiever.

60 (Grade C)
TOEFL paper-based test score : 600
TOEFL iBT® test: 100

IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa.

The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.


The Brunel International Scholarship

The Brunel International Scholarship is an annual award scheme designed to promote talent and encourage excellence in scholars coming to Brunel from around the globe. For 2010/11, 35 awards of either £3,000 or £2,000 are available to both undergraduate and postgraduate students who have been offered a place on a full-time course at Brunel.

All applications must be submitted online before 26 May 2010.


Bursaries may be available from your School, and your course director once you have secured and accepted a place on a course for information on any funding opportunities.

* A limited number of part-scholarships of £1,500 are available for the MA programmes in Music and Drama. Details will be sent to candidates who have confirmed their intention to study at Brunel in the 2010/11 academic year.
* The Leaders of Tomorrow PhD Bursary in Human Centred Design is supported by a donation from Brunel graduate and philanthropist Peter Ilori. The bursary provides £5,000 of financial support towards the study fees of high-achieving graduates who wish to pursue a PhD in Human Centred Design. Selection is based on the quality of applicants´ PhD study proposal.

Extra-curricular scholarships

Extra-curricular scholarships do not cover living costs or tuition fees. They are available to both taught and research students.

A number of Music Awards to help cover music tuition costs are made each year to students who are not studying music performance as part of their academic course.

The Brunel Sports Scholarship helps elite performance athletes by supporting their academic study and sporting needs simultaneously.

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